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The Hidden Animals of Israel

Updated: May 26, 2022

Before making aliyah to Zichron Yaakov in 2015, the height of my Israeli wildlife experience had occurred in Tel Aviv. While wondering the streets of this eccentric city, glorying in the architectural jewels that one can find hidden in the disarray, I saw a huge crow fly up from behind a crumbling concrete wall. A cat followed in close succession; its claws outstretched, ready for the kill. Up until this point in my life, this was the closest I had come in my Israeli travels to a David Attenborough moment.

How naïve I was! After moving with my family from Australia to Israel, in 2015, I was sitting in our new living room in Zichron Yaakov when my daughter, who was nine years old at the time, starting jumping up and down and yelling repeatedly, “What the heck is that?” A strange long animal, which we had never seen before in our lives, had appeared in our garden. Quickly, I typed into google, “Israeli animals.” We had just seen an Egyptian mongoose in our backyard! I had thought of mongooses as exotic animals that one reads about in stories by Rudyard Kipling, but here was one in our backyard.

Over the following years, we had a variety of interesting guests visit our garden. A mother mongoose and her three cubs became our regular visitors. At night, we were woken by howling jackals and sometimes, in the early morning, I would find a jackal standing

serenely in our backyard. Our grass was often dug up by wild boars, who we could hear grunting and snorting from our bedroom window at night. When walking behind our house, in the reserve, we saw families of hyraxes with their pups running all over the rocks like tiny brown pompoms. My youngest daughter arrived home from school one day carrying a chameleon the size of her forearm. Once our neighbours invited us over to look at a beautiful little hedgehog who was walking around their garden. And during the rain, when the river behind our house flowed, we helplessly witnessed an unfortunate porcupine trying to escape the rapids. In the space of two years, all my preconceptions about Israel as the land of cats and pigeons had been turned upside down. What an amazing array of wildlife exists in this tiny country!

I spoke to my sister, who lives in Australia, to tell her my idea to make a business from art inspired by Israeli wildlife and nature. She was also surprised by my description of the rich Israeli wildlife. She also had the impression that Israel was a land of cats. She asked, “Why doesn’t anyone talk about all these animals?” Coming from Australia, where the wildlife is a major part of our culture, tourism and national pride, it seemed amazing to us that Israelis are not roaming the world, boasting of their amazing animals. There are many tourist shops in Israel with beautiful Judaica. But where are the mugs and tea-towels, t-shirts, aprons and paintings featuring these beautiful animals? Where are all the souvenirs and what a great business opportunity! So, my husband and I started TevaArt.

TevaArt is more than a business. It is a way to get to know the nature of this beautiful country and to share our appreciation of its amazing wildlife with others.

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Tova Baichman-Kass
Tova Baichman-Kass

What a fantastic piece, highlighting the amazing animals of Israel!

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